Most Israelis oppose soldier's manslaughter conviction

An Israeli soldier has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker previous year.

Azaria was found guilty of shooting 21-year-old Fatah al-Sharif as he lay overpowered on the ground after al-Sharif and another Palestinian were shot during a stabbing attack at a West Bank checkpoint.

During the military court's sentencing on Tuesday, supporters of Azaria gathered outside IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, hailing him as a hero.

An Israeli soldier who shot an incapacitated Palestinian attacker in the head was sentenced to 18 months in prison Tuesday, in a case that has divided Israelis and prompted calls for his pardon.

After Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter January, Ido Zelkovitz, head of the Middle East studies department at Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel and senior researcher at the University of Haifa told Mondoweiss that both sides of the Israeli political spectrum agreed on one thing - Azaria shot a terrorists in their eyes - which in the end, he said would indeed lead to a pardon after Azaria serves a small part of his sentence.

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A recent report from the Palestinian Ma'an news agency found that more than 111 Palestinian were killed in 2016, nearly all of them at the hands of Israeli forces.

However, it said it was passing a lighter sentence than requested partly because it had been Azaria's first combat experience and his record had been unblemished until then.

Following the court's sentencing, Azaria's defense vowed to appeal the ruling, while several high-ranking Israeli politicians called for a pardon in his case.

Many do not expect soldiers to be held accountable.

Last year's shooting was caught on camera by a Palestinian activist, leading to a split within the Israeli government when the military moved to prosecute Azaria despite vocal opposition from Israel's far right - including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Meanwhile, Yusri al-Sharif, the father of slain assailant Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, said the sentence was "unjust" and a "farce created to deceive world opinion".

Footage of the incident appeared to show the Palestinian motionless.

The Azaria conviction was, therefore, the exception to the rule and stands unique in the long history of impunity enjoyed by Israeli armed forces, it said.

According to the Israeli rights group Yesh Din, the military has launched 262 investigations into fatalities on the Palestinian side since 2000, but issued indictments in just 17. He said Palestinians convicted in the deaths of Israelis receive life sentences, while crimes like throwing stones carry a minimum six-month sentence and throwing firebombs carry a minimum one year, even if no one is hurt. He will also be demoted to the rank of private.

Azaria entered the packed courtroom around midday to applause from friends. The soldier's father, Charlie, thanked the protesters and urged them to remain calm. After the sentencing, the family sang Israel's national anthem.

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